Black Hornet Nano UAV helping keep soldiers safe in Afghanistan

first_imgUnmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are becoming an ever more common site in the skies, but they are seen in their greatest numbers over combat zones. It makes sense to use them there as they can remain airborne for many hours monitoring, and even attacking a target without putting a soldier’s life in danger.Drone technology is always improving though, and a new unit is helping to keep UK soldiers safe by its ability to quickly check what’s around the next corner while at the same time being small enough to fit in a pocket.It’s called the Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle and measures just 10 x 2.5cm and weighs a mere 16 grams. It looks very similar to a miniature helicopter, but inside you’ll find a tiny camera alongside the motor and battery that allow it to fly.The Black Hornet has been developed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics AS, with 160 of them being entrusted to UK soldiers through a contract with Marlborough Communications Ltd. Each one can be deployed while soldiers are on patrol to check out an area before the troops expose themselves to any danger. Control can either be directly through an accompanying control pad and display, or pre-programmed to follow GPS coordinates.Each Black Hornet can fly for 30 minutes on a full charge and has a range of roughly half a mile. It’s too small to be taken out by a weapon even when stationary, but the nano drone flies at up to 22mph making it an impossible target. I also imagine it wouldn’t take long to recharge the battery inside the Hornet, and having a backup or two isn’t going to add much weight to a soldier’s pack.The Black Hornet has been used in Afghanistan since last year, and is helping to stop soldiers being pinned down by enemy fire. They aren’t cheap though, as the Marlborough contract delivered 160 of them for £20 million (US$31.4 million).via BBC News. All images © Crown copyright 2013last_img read more